4 Reasons Why HR Pros Can Benefit From Candy Crush Saga



Last week some Facebook friends got into a conversation about the video game Candy Crush Saga (CCS). More specifically, their conversation was about spending money to play CCS.

It was very disheartening to me to see these friends – people who work in or around the HR space – make comments that were misguided, possibly malicious. At the very least they were highly judgmental.




My first reaction was, “Hey! I don’t pay to play this game,” as if I needed to justify my playing habits to these friends based on their comments. But  then I realized that it really didn’t matter, because I have certainly paid-to-play other video games before. Did that make me “stupid” or an “idiot” as the comments suggest?

Of course not.

But that exchage did make me think about myself, my motives, and my reason for liking and playing CCS, even more than Angry Birds or Bejeweled Blitz (other games I have played a lot and enjoyed). And that reflection made me realize that CCS offers some real developmental benefits – four of them – that I wasn’t able to find in the same degree from other games. And I also realized that the reason I don’t pay-to-play CSS is because the first two reasons below get an even greater workout without the advantage that paid help gives.

1. Strategic Analysis and Implementation of Goals – Each level of CCS has a different primary goal (clear the jelly, fill the orders, bring down the ingredients, etc.), as well as the general goal of highest possible points. In order to successfully complete each level, it is important to consider the strategic movement of game pieces in order to achieve the goals, because the player is also working around obstacles such as limited number of moves, time bombs, and fudge (don’t ask). Those goals, and the strategies necessary to achieve them, are different -and harder – as player ascends each level. Developing strategic skills with an eye toward reaching specific goals is certainly something that all HR practitioners should work at.

2. Dedication and Perseverance – As the player ascends levels, CCS becomes increasingly hard. That, coupled with the fact that players have a limited number of “lives” – or chances to play – means that some levels take a very long time to complete. The only way to get to a new level is by successful completion of the previous level. If you get stuck trying to complete a level it could take weeks – or more – before you are successful. Teaching people to keep trying, over and over, until they reach their goal, is a valuable lesson.

3. Conversation Starter – HR bloggers often talk about the value of connections, and how important it is to make them. I agree! You can’t be successful at HR unless you are a person that likes to talk with people – in the line at the store or in an elevator. So how does CCS help? I often find myself playing CCS in waiting rooms or restaurants, because I live alone part-time and have only myself for company in public. But if I am playing CCS –  with the sound off – someone notices. And other players never hesitate to start the conversation. “Isn’t it fun? Addicting, isn’t it?” “So what level are you on?” At dinner a few nights ago I found myself in a robust conversation with 3 other people about strategies necessary for completion of higher levels. People pay a lot of money to go to HR conferences and have similar conversations. That’s why this comment is just wrong.



4. Deepen Existing Connections  – CCS is really big on Facebook, although it can be played through their website and through mobile apps. I find myself talking to some Facebook friends about and through CCS that I don’t interact with as much by status updates or comments. It reminds me of the diversity of my friends and their different, but valid, interests. Developing deeper bonds with others through CCS acts as a constant reminder that connections are like a garden – they need to be properly tended to or they will wither and die.

Of course, an HR pro could spend a couple of thousand dollars at a major conference to be inspired to do these things, too. But be prepared for someone to say that you are stupid, a deadbeat, or just plain wasting your money. 😉

Do you play? Tell me how you feel about it. Not a player? Do you agree with the Facebook comments? I’m stuck on Level 213. Anyone have any strategies to share with me?




HRevolution – The Future of HR

Saturday afternoon the gloves came off.

The last session of the HRevolution un-conference, introduced in my previous blog, was called “The Future of HR”.  It was facilitated by the incomparable Mark Stelzner, whose admitted purpose was “to be provocative and shake the room up a bit.”  His mission was well accomplished, and the passionate discussion was described by @KristaFrancis on Twitter: Great minds *don’t* think alike and that’s a good thing.  Mark summed up the discussion on his blog, but I want to focus on this particular statement:

There was a great discussion on how people need to quit their HR jobs if they are that miserable. In other words, stop complaining and lamenting your non-strategic role and instead find a company that values your contribution.

That “call to action” has been repeated since on blogs (here ), and the HR Happy Hour blog talk radio show.


Why does it pain me to hear and read that people who want to make a difference should just quit their jobs and go elsewhere? Because it’s a strategy that’s far too over-simplified, and the consequences of failure are too dangerous for that simplification.  I speak from personal experience.

My Personal History

I come from a small (less than 50 employees) food processing/manufacturing plant.  My husband and his partner own the business.  When I began working there, no one knew exactly what my role was going to be.  I fell into an HR function almost immediately, because there was NO HR function there at all.  I started learning, and I made myself a HR Manager/Generalist.  I had a seat at that strategic table, usually at the head.  I made those P&Ls sing.

So why did I leave in June 2008?  Because I had a nagging feeling that there was more evolving to be done, and I couldn’t do it where I was.  There is only so far you can go in a really small company before some of the work becomes redundant, and some becomes impossible. So I quit (read: no unemployment benefits) and went looking for a company that would “value my contributions”.

It’s now November 2009 and I have yet to find that company.  Telling a recruiter or a hiring manager that I left my job because “I needed new challenges” makes them hang up on me.  Layoffs and downsizings create sympathy, self-indulgence does not.

I’m lucky – my husband still owns the company and has a job, so I still have sufficient funds to go to un-conferences and listen to people tell me to do what I’ve already done.  But suppose I was a sole breadwinner with kids to support and a mortgage to meet?  That strategy would have placed a lot of other people in jeopardy.  Is Laurie Ruettiman’s philosophy is the better one? She says, ” You get a paycheck. Be happy.”

Going Forward

By sharing that with you, I want to emphasize a point that was touched on at HRevolution but not sufficiently embraced: the enlightened HR group that we are a part of is a very tiny minority of the entire HR population.  The solutions and suggestions we propose inside of our “HR echo chamber”  will not be embraced by them  and will often be actively resisted.  We need to help others examine themselves and their roles to see how they can evolve and revolutionize, even if circumstances and paychecks keep them in their positions.  A large majority of HR pros don’t even know that people and technology exist to help them make this journey.  In other words, they don’t read our blogs.  Until a very short time ago, I was one of those people.

When Alicia Arenas asked us in a video to leave HRevolution with a commitment to spread the message, she mentioned college students and local SHRM chapters as examples of avenues to spread our enlightenment. Let’s collectively think of more, and start an outreach program, because we will not succeed without  converting others. With that in mind, I am picking up the flag of  HRevolution and making this commitment:

I will use social media, personal connections, and any other soapbox that is available to me to encourage, aid, and advise HR Pros and other business professionals to embark on a course of personal development that will expand their knowledge and engage and enlighten others.

By doing this, I hope to move past the idea that HR people should just be happy to get a paycheck.  The people I will try to reach may not be able to leave their companies, but they may be able to avoid doing everything “The Company Way.”  Viva la revolution!

The Company Way